District attorney to decide on seeking death penalty

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Special circumstance charges were filed against a man that alleges he killed Leticia Arroyo in her Santee townhome during a robbery, burglary, and while lying in wait.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said Aug. 29 that his office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty or a life sentence if Jose Nunez Torres, 22, is convicted.

Special circumstance charges were filed against a man that alleges he killed Leticia Arroyo in her Santee townhome during a robbery, burglary, and while lying in wait.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said Aug. 29 that his office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty or a life sentence if Jose Nunez Torres, 22, is convicted.

Torres is charged with shooting Arroyo, 34, in the head on Oct. 4, 2016, in her Mission Greens Road home. Torres and Gustavo Ceron, 25, are charged with a home invasion robbery in La Jolla a week later.

Both men pleaded not guilty last week and a trial date for Jan. 22, 2018 was scheduled in El Cajon Superior court. They were held to answer on charges following a 3-day preliminary hearing that ended Aug. 17. 

Torres is also charged with two counts of evading officers with reckless driving, driving under the influence of a drug, possession of narcotics paraphernalia, and auto theft.

 Torres’ bail is $1 million, and Ceron’s bail is $305,000. They both remain behind bars.

Jacumba man sentenced for human smuggling

A Jacumba alien smuggler who injured a Border Patrol with a rock to his face was sentenced Aug. 28 to 99 months in federal prison.

Martel Valencia-Cortez, 40, received 87 months in prison for assault on a federal officer and three counts of bringing in undocumented immigrants into the U.S.

U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff ordered an additional 12 months for violating terms from his 2013 alien smuggling conviction in which he received 33 months from Huff.

The injury to the agent occurred Nov. 15, 2015, when he threw a softball size rock which struck the agent’s face so hard he initially thought his jaw was broken. 

“The sentence is a fitting reminder that the safety of our courageous agents, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our country, is of paramount importance to our office and to the community,” said Acing U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson.

Valencia-Cortez downplayed the agent’s injury in a handwritten letter to the judge, emphasizing the agent did not have his jaw broken.

A jury convicted him May 12 after a 4-day trial.  He was not arrested until March 11, 2016, after Mexican authorities escorted him to the San Ysidro Port of Entry into the hands of U.S. authorities.

The human smuggling in Jacumba occurred on Oct. 1, 2015 and three women were arrested at 5:10 a.m. as material witnesses. They identified Valencia-Cortez as a foot guide and said they were supposed to pay $8,000 each for the smugglers’ fees.

El Cajon man found mentally competent to stand trial

An El Cajon man suspected of killing his mother in 2015 has been found mentally competent to stand trial after treatment at a state psychiatric facility.

Erik Enrique Margain, 37, is charged with killing Martha Margain-Velarde, 64, and attempted murder of his brother on May 17, 2015, in the victims’ home on Hidden Crest Drive in El Cajon.

His older brother was able to leave the scene and call 911 for help, but he was also hospitalized with injuries in the incident.

A preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 29 in El Cajn Superior Court after San Diego Superior Court Judge Margie Woods read psychiatric reports and ruled Aug. 11 he was competent.

Erik Margain was at Patton State Hospital after being found incompetent for trial 1.5 years ago. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility without bail.

Lemon Grove man to be sentenced

Rainier Aquino Raroque, 37, of Lemon Grove, will be sentenced Sept. 19 after pleading guilty to failure to register as a sex offender.

A warrant for his arrest was issued Aug. 1 and he was arrested Aug. 6 around 11 a.m. by a sheriff’s deputy on patrol in the area of Palm Street in Lemon Grove.

Raroque pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor offense of failing to register as a sex offender during a 6-week period in 2016. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but the current charge is a felony in which he failed to register as a sex offender a second time.

Raroque remains in jail without bail.

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